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Friday Question of the Day – What’s Your Favorite Grocery Store?

by Prince Of Petworth January 24, 2013 at 10:22 pm 93 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user jleathers

For this week’s Friday Question of the Day let’s talk grocery stores. If you could have Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Wegmans, Safeway, Giant, YES! Organic Market, H Mart, Harris Teeter or Target move into your neighborhood – which would you be most excited to get?

  • AJBK

    hmmmm – headline asks what your favorite grocery store is, then article asks which would you want to move to your neighborhood. Two VERY different questions as your favorite grocery store is probably already in your neighborhood? :P

    • RJS

      Yes, very different. Safeway is the closest to me by far, so I do almost all of my shopping there. I suppose I’d like Harris Teeter more than any other. I confess I’ve never been to Trader Joes. Whole Foods is okay (anyone remember Fresh Fields?), but they won’t get my business anymore b/c their owner/CEO/whatever is laughing all the way to the conservative fundraiser with the money he made from liberals thinking they are being green or locavores or whatever. I’ll stick to the farmers market and actual local food merchants. And I just don’t get the love for Wegmans. It’s true that there is none anywhere near me, and I would have to make a significant drive completely out of my way to get to the closest, but I tried it once, and will not go back. For such a huge store, their selection of regular groceries sucked. Alot were their own store brand, which may or may not be good, but there just wasn’t much variety. Now, their produce section was very impressive, but not worth the drive just for that.

  • Alex

    H Mart is on the list but not Harris Teeter? Really?

    • Prince Of Petworth

      Ach my bad. Total oversight. I added Harris Teeter.

  • Harris Teeter, without a doubt.

  • Anonymous

    Ugh, Trader Joe’s, really?

    • Anonymous

      Trader Joe’s is like Aldi for people who think they are too good to shop at Aldi.

      • Seriously? Comparing TJs to Aldi? Have you been to an Aldi around here? Horrifying. I’ll take Trader Joe’s anyday.

        Shoppers also isn’t on the list–there are a number of those just outside the DC list. I shop at Shoppers all the time, even though Aldi is closer to me. There’a also a Whole Foods in Silver Spring, but I’m not going out of my way to get there.

        • Anonymous

          They have the same owners but yeah, two totally different stores!

        • kac

          I haven’t been to any of the Aldi stores around here, as they’re all pretty far from me, but I love the one in my hometown. They have German goodies like chocolate and candy that I can’t find anywhere else, and surprisingly good (and cheap) staples like cheese, cereal, milk, etc.

      • i guess that means i think i’m too good to go to aldi. though i’ve never been to aldi and have no reason the think it’s better or worse than trader joes. but i like trader joe’s.

        i appreciate you letting me know how i feel. it’s like i dont even have to think for myself. thanks!

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, I’ve never really gotten the Trader Joe’s frenzy. I heard people rave about it for years, then when it finally came to my area (where I used to live)…meh. I guess it’s cool as a novelty shopping trip if you’re interested in snack-y stuff and I also know people who love their frozen foods. But the produce was pitiful for the most part, and it’s always seemed to me like more of a place where you wander in for the fun of seeing what snacks you’ll stumble upon (but don’t really need) as opposed to a place where you can find a full grocery list’s worth of items.

      • Anonymous

        It’s kind of a fun place to shop on occasion, to stumble upon interesting and unique items, which are usually very good. But a lot of their stuff seems to be limited offerings, so if you really fall in love with something, there’s no guarantee you’ll ever get to buy it there again.

        I don’t know how anybody could survive for long doing their regular, weekly grocery shopping there.

        • Anonymous

          That’s because the TJ’s here are awful. The ones out in California have well-made premarinated meats that you just have to put in the oven/on the stove, do some basic stuff, and they’re ready and awesome. The produce is also pretty decent out there (though produce is typically better at California supermarkets than here, no matter where you go). It’s basically the perfect place to go when you realize you forgot to put something out to defrost for dinner, and need just enough produce for a meal for two. Here it’s just a place to buy cheap wine and party snacks.

          Oh, and to the Aldi commenter: It’s owned by members of the same family that own Aldi, so that should not be surprising to anyone. Also explains why they’re so adamant about mostly only carrying store brands for non-liquor.

      • I went there (when living in CA and closer to a TJs than I am now) because it was noticeably cheaper than grocery stores such as Safeway. Never got produce there though (since it is limited and isn’t that great) and meat prices were comparable to other places too. Basically I would get milk, cheese, salsa, bread, etc at TJs. Quality is pretty good too.

        And yes, I would agree that the TJs in the DC area aren’t as good as the ones in California unfortunately.

  • Brooklander

    Come on… where is Harris Teeter.

    Out of all the DC based chains, I would take HT over any of these…any day.

    • dcgirl53

      I want one so bad in Brookland!

      • nloewen

        NY Ave isn’t soooo far away…

  • dcgirl53

    Harris Teeter is my vote

  • dat

    i am super excited about the new safeway coming to petworth, but i still :heart: the kalorama harris teeter and would LOVE a harris teeter or trader joes ’round here :-)

  • zandunga

    Harris Teeter

    Never been to Wegmans but I hear it’s good.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve been to Wegman’s in far-out MD, and I’m conflicted…on the one hand, good selection, even in produce, mainly because the store is freaking MASSIVE. On the other hand, it’s so huge…I dunno, sometimes it’s just a little overwhelming. Maybe better for occasional stock-ups than frequent trips. I’m disorganized, and I’ve lived my whole adult life in small apartments and without a car, so I’m in the habit of making lots of small grocery trips on the way home from work or whatnot, rather than doing a big weekly shopping load. I wonder if Wegman’s even operates in urban areas? The only stores of theirs I’ve seen were all way out in the exurbs.

      • Anonymous

        I’ve heard that they had some urban concepts but gave up on them.

        We will never see a Wegman’s in DC like the ones way out in the suburbs, because it could never be big enough to have that diverse selection of groceries.

        • Just Say No to Debbie Downer

          Please re-read the question(s): it was NOT about the likelihood of this happening.

          • Lighten up

            I read the question and understood it the first time, thanks. Sorry for the teensy digression, although I think one could also argue that whether a grocery store is your absolute favorite could tie in to the likelihood of it ever coming to the neighborhood. Maybe I’m too much of a realist, but even if I loved Wegman’s, I think I’d eventually get over pining for it and find another “favorite” if I couldn’t get to Wegman’s stores farther away and knew there was zero chance they’d open near me.

      • Anonymous

        Wegmans still has some of their old smaller stores in Rochester NY though I can’t imagine that they’d bring those back in force. The smaller stores still maintain the quality (in produce and whatnot) of the large stores and still have better selections and variety than other grocery stores of similar size that I have been to in this area. The thing I love about Wegmans stores everywhere and of every size is that they give you the ability to buy your high-quality fresh local organic produce, artisan cheese, shampoo, bulk candy and tree-killing bleachy white paper towels in one trip.

      • saf

        They used to (former Rochesterian here).

        They were a normal grocery store – a good one, but normal size – until 1979. That’s when they built their first superstore (and tore down my junior high to build it.) Since then they have built mostly superstores.

        They have also gotten rid of many of their smaller stores, including the downtown Rochester store. (Some still exist, but they are all older stores.)

        I admit to being baffled by their resistance to building urban-size stores in cities. I thought Danny Wegman was smart enough to see the $.

  • Anonymous

    I have a weakness for Whole Foods, in part because of the store aesthetics (it just feels more natural light-filled and pleasant than the average big-box supermarket, although I think the major chains are starting to wise up to this) and availability of healthy, less-processed items. Cost is an issue, although I think the biggest hit to my wallet is from WF’s produce and the novelty items that entice me while I’m browsing the aisles; with some of the staples I purchase (canned goods, almond milk, etc) I find WF to be more or less price-competitive with many other grocers (at least in an urban market). So I guess that’s my favorite, although for convenience I often hit my neighborhood Safeway or Harris Teeter (Safeway more so since it’s super-close, but between the two, HT wins out on quality.) Safeway’s produce is hands-down cheaper than WF, but the quality is so hit-or-miss.

  • Anonymous

    Bestworld in MtP. Better off-cut meat selection than anywhere else. Whole, ungutted, unscaled fish -not luxury fish, but the best of the lot. Tropical fruit, Asian sundries and hot sauce varieties in every aisle. Not as much cereal selection, but how much cereal are you going to eat.

    • anon

      +1 for Bestworld!!

      I stop almost every night to grab whatever it is I need for dinner. Granted, there are things I go to Safeway for (bread, pesto, peanut butter), but Bestworld is def the bang for your buck in Mt P.

      • Anonymous

        Hmm…I don’t eat fish or meat, but that mention of tropical fruits is intriguing. Thanks for the tip!

  • Joe C

    I really do not get the love affair with Harris Teeter. For everyday items, I feel like I’m getting ripped off as compared to the Giants and Safeways of the world. The quality of meats and produce are also nowhere near Whole Foods or an independent specialty market. Maybe it’s just the DC locations (NoMA & AdMo) but I feel like they’re always out of pretty basic things (basil, chicken breasts, etc) and end up at Safeway anyway.

    Are the suburban locations much better? I don’t get the love for the Teet but actually would love to hear why people do.

    From my experience, I think that Wegman’s is a significantly better “intermediate” grocery store in that it can compete with Giant/Safeway for basic stuff but also offers high quality meats, produce, dairy etc.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed. I’ve been to the AdMo HT and, like I mentioned in an earlier response, I think it’s better than the Columbia Rd Safeway in selection (the HT is larger), but my few trips to the HT, I felt like a number of items were overpriced.

    • Anonymous

      When I first started looking at apartment listings in DC, I came across so many Craigslist posts that included crowing lines like “HARRIS TEETER! HARRIS TEETER!” For the first few ads, I was like “Huh? What gives? Who the hell is Harris Teeter??” before I put two and two together. (In my defense, I grew up almost solely with Giant and Superfresh) ;)

    • Anonymous

      The Harris Teeters in DC definitely seem like they’re more expensive than Safeway. And yes, the suburban locations are nicer.

    • m

      TOTALLY agree with you. Harris Teeter has a serious stocking and produce freshness problem. The HT in Adams Morgan could often not even manage to keep decent onions in stock, and the produce is often wilted and yucky. Safeway is almost always better (cost & freshness). The only thing HT is better for is bread.

      • BitterElitist

        holy damn! They ran out of bell peppers, fresh herbs and had moldy ginger.

        HT is great when well-executed.

  • Anonymous

    Trader Joe’s for both. It is smaller in size, but with decent selection and cheap. Yes, the produce section is not amazing, but if you like to spend hand over first on greens go to Whole Foods. H Mart it’s the ideal spot for produce, but I wouldn’t want it to close by. Too big.

    • Yeah, I’m a TJs shopper. I go once every 2 weeks and load up on stuff I need. I’m cooking for myself (and occasionally a friend), so it’s perfect for me. I usually get two weeks worth of the frozen meals to bring to work for lunch. Lots of variety and super cheap prices. I can pretty much get everything I ever need for everyday eating. If I need specialized ingredients for a special meal or dish, I’ll usually pop into the Kalorama HT (which is ridiculously overpriced, IMO).

      • Anonymous

        I think we’re the same person :) This is exactly what I do and it works perfectly just for me. I often have to stop by Yes or Safeway to get a few speciality items (usually a produce or grain) but Trader Joe’s has most of what I need for a great price.

    • Anonymous

      “Hand over fist on greens”…I hear you on that one! Finding decent, cheap greens is one of my biggest grocery shopping challenges (I use a lot of greens). I shop at Whole Foods often, and I’m not thrilled about paying $2.60-$3 per bunch of greens; on the other hand, in my experience, there’s about a 75-80% chance the greens at WF will be not completely sad and wilted compared to a 40-50% chance at Safeway and Giant where they often go for 99 cents a pound. I’ve heard raves about H Mart, but if I spend the Metro fare to get out there, well….there goes any cost savings. I miss the Waverly farmers’ market in Baltimore…$1/pound kale, collard, and mustard greens! :) (I’ve found greens at the DC farmers’ markets price-comparable to Whole Foods, although when I’m able to get there I do try to shop at the farmers’ markets as much as possible.)

      • Anonymous

        99 cents per pound greens at Capitol Supermarket (11th between M and N) just a couple of blocks from the P street whole foods. Plus other incredibly cheap produce at a quarter of the price of Whole Foods (10 cent limes, 50 cent cilantro, etc.)

        • Anonymous

          Sounds worth checking out, how’s the quality?

  • Anonymous

    What do people think is the best value supermarket? I live in Columbia Heights but have a car. I split most of my shopping between Giant/Target/H Mart. How’s Bestworld? What about Shopper’s? I was thinking about stopping by after work today…

    • Anonymous

      Judging from the discussion thread a while back, a lot of people seemed to like Costco for groceries.

    • For produce, H Mart. Bestworld might match it in price, but not in quality nor selection.

  • ShawShank

    What?!?! No Capitol Supermarket? C’mon Man!

  • anonymous

    My favorite store is definitely not Rolands (as pictured above), the “corner ripoff store” as I call it. I am a Harris Teeter shopper. My friend shops at Safeway. We’ve compared prices and determined that some of the healthier foods are actually cheaper at HT, and some of the junk foods (i.e., cookies and candies) are more expensive at HT, as compared with Safeway. If we’re right about this, I’m wondering if there is a market thing going on here- as in, HT wants to attract people who are buying tofu, organic produce, and soymilk, so they cut the prices on those particular items. Safeway, on the other hand, may not have as many tofu buyers and they’re not interested in them, so they keep their prices higher on items like that. The junk food and processed foods at Safeway, however, are priced lower in order to attract a slightly different customer base. Just a theory.

    • Beer is cheaper at Adams Morgan HT than the nearby Safeway. I can’t decide if that helps or hurts your argument :).

      Actually that HT has the cheapest beer prices I’ve found in the District. Unfortunately its produce prices nearly match Whole Foods.

      • Anonymous

        Cheapest beer and wine options (in the district) are at TJs hands down. But with the new costco thing may have changed

        • TJs is definitely the cheapest for wine. Beer is cheap IF you’re buying the TJs brand of beer. Otherwise, most 6-packs of craft brews start at $9 and go up from there (similar prices to HTs).

          I definitely load up on beer at CostCo. It’s even cheaper there.

          Does anyone know if they sell liquor at the new DC CostCo? I went to CostCo in California over the Xmas holidays and they had RIDICULOUS liquor deals. $19 for 1.75 liter of Bombay Sapphire. $27 for 1.75 liters of Maker’s Mark. Huge bottle of Grey Goose for $25. I was shocked.

          Also, one of the cheapest delis to buy beer in the city is the Eleven Market right next to Vinoteca on 11th Street. $5 for a 6-pack of Yuengling, craft brews are $7-$9 for a 6-pack.

          • yes they sell liquor at costco in dc.

          • Anonymous

            Yes! Kirkland Vodka (handle) for $14, handle of 7 for 14-15, handle of Captain for $20, plus a better selection of beer/wine than the Pentagon city Costco.

          • THANK YOU! This is a game changer. My bar is about to become much better stocked :)

          • Yes, the TJs in Foggy Bottom is more expensive for non-TJ craft beer than the HT on Kalorama (at least it was a year ago, I stopped going to TJs around then).

            Wine is another story…. I definitely would not recommend HT for wine. I’ve always been puzzled why TJs is so cheap except when it comes to beer.

            Thanks for the tip on Eleven Market, I might have to go check it out.

  • Chelsea

    Publix!!!! Arguably the best grocery store ever.

  • bb

    A vote of confidence for H Mart, which would fill a valuable niche market in DC. Whenever I’m in the suburbs, I go and stock up – it would be nice to have one in the city.

  • Park View Pirate

    You forgot Murry’s Fine Foods!!

  • Bkk

    I shop at all of them except target and wegmans.
    No one single grocery store could make me happy. Diversity is king

  • I want a Kroger.

    • If we are going there I want a Meijer.

      • The Mitten

        Yes Meiijer!!

        • Anonymous

          Meijer, Thrifty Acres! (A bit of nostalgia from my childhood and grandparents, there.) :)

    • BinSS

      Me, too. I grew up going to Kroger, and never thought they were anything particularly special, but I moved to Houston for a few years after college and they had these “Signature” Krogers there that were really nice. I miss those, and I haven’t found a D.C. area grocery store that’s quite as nice, though the Harris Teeter in Alexandria and the Wegman’s I’ve been to in Columbia, MD, were both pretty great. Both are too far away for me to go to on a regular basis, though.

    • I’d like a Big Bear.


  • Teet’s all the way! C’mon…you can’t beat those chicken breasts for $1.99. For my money you can’t beat their service either–all employees are super friendly and helpful. Brad, who works at the checkout counter in the ADMO Teeter, is great–get him going on Beyonce and he’ll talk your ear off!

    • LOL. I know EXACTLY who this is. He’s my favorite, by far. Such a funny, nice, and talkative guy.

    • Anonymous

      +1. That is an awesome store. The employees are always super friendly and the store is kept neat and clean!

      • m

        I am no HT fan, but I agree that the stores are clean and employees are super-friendly.

  • Oh my god, it never occured to me I could have my own H Mart. Now I’m sad.

  • The Hill Safeway got renovated a few years back, but I think the new-ish HT beats it in terms of brightness and cleanliness. Love the lady pharmacist at Safeway. I prefer the Safeway store brand over HT’s. HT usually has a nicer looking selection and wider variety of produce. And their check-out lines move much faster. Would LOVE a Trader Joe’s on the Hill for the occasional unique treat, but agree that it’s not the best choice for day-to-day grocery needs (but they do have that daily tasting of a TJ product — yum!).

  • AllTheThings

    H MART!!!!!!!! I still can’t believe its easier for me to buy Asian products in my small Iowa hometown than it is in the nation’s capital.

    At least we have Hana Japanese Market.

    • there used to be good asian markets in chinatown before it got gentrified.

  • Anonymous

    Silver Spring Cooperative, since you’re asking

    • Anonymous

      Oh and also Rodmans… you can get anything you really need at Rodmans.. with the best affordable wine selection

  • Lori

    No love for MOM’s Organic Market? My favorite by far! Good prices, good selection AND free coffee AND they carry your bags to your car for you.

  • Anon

    SHOPPERS! All the way. I live in DC but drive to the one in Alexandria to do my shopping – its only a quick 15 minute drive and worth it. It is incredibly affordable, especially on my penny pinching budget.

  • Anonymous

    Piggly Wiggly

  • What and Where is H Mart? Never heard of it. I’m on 14th next to Yes! and 6 blocks from Harris Teeter and I hear TJ’s is coming soon.

  • m

    Wait, I want ROLANDS in my neightborhood!! Used to live 2 blocks from that place, and I miss the smell of rotten meat … It was gross, but there was just something great about ROLANDS.

    If I can’t have Rolands, I would like a Whole Foods, thanks. Whole Foods is expensive, but has the best produce, cheese & meat. Safeway for the cheap stuff, Whole Foods for the good stuff.

  • Anonymous

    I would have voted for Yes! Organic, but we already have one in the neighborhood. I would have voted for H Market, but DC doesn’t have a large Asian population. So it was down to either Trader Joe’s or Wegman’s.

  • LoganGuy

    Trader Joe’s ?? Really? I guess to each there own.
    I think it’s H.T. hands down. :)

  • RozCat

    No favorites; I still find myself shopping all over.

    Trader Joes – staples, coffee, cheap wine, frozen meats, treats
    Whole Foods – produce, deli foods
    Brookville Market – fresh meat
    HT/Safeway/Giant – national brand condiments, cereals, canned goods

  • Anonymous

    I so don’t get the love affair with the Teet. The ambiance is like a dentist office and they’re big pushers for frankenfood. Plus their produce is often abysmal and not really priced well.

    I’d take TJs for convenience and some good price points on specific products like healthy bread, cheese, wine, coffee, but overall I’d take Whole Foods. You can buy the least processed and most healthful items of any of these stores, and while there is a bit of a premium, you can shop sanely on price on many items (bulk foods, some produce, 365 brand packaged items).

    I don’t particularly like Mackey or his views either, but they’re nothing new new to me. It’s a well run and profitable company and they do right on a number of fronts — mainly being a decent employer and treating their customers with respect, something lacking in many places in DC.

  • PetworthRes

    Well, Safeway is not my favorite grocery store by far, but we tried their home delivery option for the first time last week (you can get free delivery while the Petworth Safeway is closed). I’m happy to report that Safeway is much more pleasant when you don’t have to go to one! I also found it easy to find their sale items and specials online and saved $24 on my $100 order. It’s great not having to leave your house to shop, especially having a baby at home :)

  • JB

    My best grocery store/neighborhood setup was when I lived within walking distance of both Safeway and Whole Foods. I’d get canned food and basic items (pasta, rice, flour, etc.) at Safeway, and I’d get produce, meat and cheese at Whole Foods. It worked out well and wasn’t too costly (and I ate less meat and cheese!). I’m not a fan of TJ’s really. Why is so much of the produce wrapped in plastic? I feel like it’s only good for frozen food, which I try to avoid, and maybe the wine and cheese.

    • Anonymous

      Seriously. The plastic-wrapped produce at TJ’s always weirded me out. Why?

  • DC Safeway’s stink
    I really miss Metropolitan Market from Seattle

  • I, for one, would like to see Kroger, so I can eat Kroger brand everything and pretend like I’m still in college.

  • Mackey Hubris

    I hate myself for continuing to shop at Whole Foods..if he would just shut up. I thought he had learned better last time and there he was last week spewing off worse than before. I don’t won’t to shop politices but he is so loud and the complete antithesis of the world I live in, almost impossible to ignore for me.
    Please Wegmans there is an urban gap begging for you to gobble up Mackey’s profits. If you build it we will come……

    • ChiJimmy

      His views may be the “antithesis” of your world, or so you think, but its why WF is as great a store as it is. Its the best. Having said that I most of my meat from a co-op in Maryland and shop at Target all the time too.

    • guest

      I don’t think Mackey cares that you hate yourself as long as you continue to hand over the money. On the other hand, I have no idea what “I don’t won’t to shop politices” is supposed to mean.


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